Living in a small town and lacking the anonymity I desire, I send my friend Rita for the pregnancy test. Damn. The instructions clearly state to wait until morning’s first pee. A long restless night filled with dread ensues.
Okay. Why do they have to make these damn packages so hard to get open? Hold the tip in the urine stream, wait three minutes: one bar not pregnant, two bars pregnant. Shit, it’s only been about thirty seconds but I decide to peek anyway.
Oh God no, please no, it said it would take three minutes. Wait a minute. The directions say to hold the tip down and I was holding it up. It must be wrong…
But I am pregnant. Again.
I walk through my life in a daze. When I look in the mirror, I see a pale and despondent woman with dark circles and greasy hair looking back. My body moves about like a sack of wet sand. I have all I can do managing the two little children I have. How will I ever deal with further compounding the situation? My desperation sweeps me away as I long to flee from this life.
While visiting friends, I lay on the dock, feeling the growing lump within pressing against the hot pungent and splintering wood, as I will the energy of the sun to nurture and love my unborn child in a way that I feel unprepared to do.
After confiding my misgivings to a dear friend, I worry about his admonitions regarding the emotional havoc wreaked upon the fetus of an unwanted child of his acquaintance, and the grown child’s struggles with chemical addiction and criminal behavior…
Four days later I go for an ultrasound. I don’t know when I had my last period; I always know when I last bled. My mother used to mark the calendar with a big R on the day I was due, for the entire world to see. But for years it has been my secret- only I know when to expect the red tide. Always.
Except this once.
At least they are not checking for twins as they had the two previous pregnancies. After the first rush at the possibility of twins, I had known the second was a false alarm as well. This time the ultrasound is performed to “check dates”.
Preparation for an ultrasound requires drinking water way beyond the capacity of the human bladder, creating extreme discomfort as the pressure becomes so great as to crush the other organs.
My sole thought and focus become not to embarrass myself by creating a lake in the middle of the waiting room. Of course, this is the day they are running behind. “Oh, you can pee, just not more than the three ounces it takes to fill this cup.” Right. I know better than to open the floodgates and use this opportunity for Kegels- or rather one long continuous kegel, as I will the technician to come for me.
Finally, as I lay on the frigid table, the tech squeezes the warm sticky goo onto my belly, chuckling as she sets the transducer onto my abdomen. As I look over my shoulder to view the screen, I gasp at the sight of two separate entities floating before my eyes, thinking in that split second, “at least it won’t be a ten-pounder” (the first two children being 8, then 9 pounds), and “we need a new washer and dryer!”
“Oh my God, that’s TWINS, isn’t it? Are those twins?!? How did that happen?” (There is no history of twins in the family- but later a doctor friend says “sit down and I’ll explain it to you!”)
Wow, twins! That puts a new light on things. Preparations must be made. Call the contractor. Knockdown the kitchen wall. Rethink nursery school, after having made the decision that our children are already getting the experience they need to start kindergarten. Shoot, we’ll probably home school them anyway. Hm. Better rethink that too.
The tech asks, as though speaking in slow motion into a barrel, “Shall we call your husband for a look, he’s in the building.” My better half is a doctor in the family practice next door and has been called into the hospital for an emergency. “No, I’ll tell him… On second thought…”
He bounces in with a grin on his face. “Is there a baby in there?” He looks at the monitor, his face draining of color, chin dropping to the floor. “Wait a minute, that’s not …”, he murmurs in disbelief amid gales of laughter.
By the time I go for blood work a few moments later, everyone in the hospital is abuzz with the news. When he wanders, dazed, back to the office, his nurse asks him about the delay at the hospital. “Twins…” “You delivered twins?!” “No… we’re going to have twins…” he replies in a dreamy monotone.
I delight in breaking the news to friends and family.
“Hey, Dad-you’ll never guess what.”
“You’re going to have twins, heh heh…”
“What?! You’re going to have twins?? You’re joking right?”
My neighbor looks at the photo trying like the dickens to yank those two images into one, for surely she is seeing double. Her husband jams his fist into his mouth, bug-eyed.
My sister, upon picking me up at the airport almost slams into the car in front of us at the tollbooth as she and her daughter in their disbelief whip their heads around to confirm that this is a joke.
I have been suddenly plucked from the lower depths of depression as in the coming months I am showered with attention, and preparations are made.
We make plans for having the kitchen remodeled so that the house we purchased with two children in mind will seem more accommodating. We shop for another crib, purchase bunk beds, move Phillip in with his brother Henry. The days fly by and suddenly the holidays are upon us.
Then, the day after Thanksgiving, in my 32ndweek, after an interminable day of shopping, my exhaustion keeps me in the car while my husband goes back to look for Henry’s jacket. As I wait, world a-shine with city lights on wet pavement, the thought crosses my mind that this is exactly the way I felt the night before my firstborn arrived after a day of climbing on the rocky shore of Maine.
Upon arrival home, I make a beeline for the bathroom and gasp in horror at my bloody underwear. A panicked trip to the maternity ward ensues. Bustling medical professionals hook me up to monitors, I.V., ID bracelet, all talking at once, asking numerous questions to which I am unable to respond, my fear rendering me speechless.
Labor has started and unless they are able to forestall it, the babies are in great jeopardy. Friends flock to my bedside, so very well-intentioned, and so very unwelcome, in my mind. I desperately need to stay focused on willing those babies to stay put. As the medication that is being administered to halt the labor sets in, I feel myself slipping off the deep end. I’m jittery, tearful, getting a bit paranoid, having hot flashes, unable to sleep at all, and completely miserable.
The following evening it is decided that I will be transferred to a hospital more capable of dealing with preemies. Those well-wishers are still streaming in to lend support, as I am tearfully loaded onto the stretcher, worried sick about what the attendants must think of this huge whale they need to be lifting into the ambulance. As I am being transported through the corridor, a crazy woman in a room we pass is screaming obscenities, adding to the sense of surreality.
As I speed (both literally and figuratively, for the medication has that effect) through the minutes in the ambulance, tubes swinging, vitals watched closely, I am reminded of hellish bygone days when trips to the hospital in this fashion were commonplace.
No time is wasted getting me admitted into the metropolitan hospital. Amid the commotion, I hear the doctor speak of difficulties resulting from under-developed lungs, blah, blah, blah.
Sleeplessness and virtual starvation have taken their toll as food is withheld in case of the necessity for anesthesia. I am at my wit’s end as the medication given me to stop the labor wreaks havoc through its side effects.
I hear myself whining that I am hungry and have had nothing to eat since the previous day’s lunch. The inconsiderate resident attending me refuses to allow me sustenance and then has the gall in the same breath to offer my husband pizza that has just been delivered to the nurse’s station. I feel the sparks fly from my eyes as through clenched teeth I admonish that thoughtless twerp not to be so unbelievably insensitive- “Don’t you ever dare do that again! At least have the decency to be more discrete when you are being such an insensitive JERK!”
I have so desperately missed the boys, having abandoned them with no notice, and am suffering pangs of guilt and breach of loyalty as I give the second two my full attention. I spend my days weighing outcomes. If the babies come now, they’ll be attached to tubes, monitors, breathing machines for god knows how long, but at least I can travel back and forth and continue to be a mother to the two sons I have.
On the other hand, if it is necessary for me to remain here for several weeks, the babies will get off to a better start which would be better in the long run. But I may not see the boys for days at a time and what will happen if they see it as abandonment and being replaced.
But if this…. that. And if that…thus… Round and round until my already-fragile psyche feels ready to spin out of this orbit.
My husband brings the boys for a visit, but EEEWWW- the crusty goo of the worst pinkeye I have ever seen repels me. I can’t get pinkeye! What if the babies are born today? If they contaminate me, then I will not be able to provide the mother nurturance the babies will require. If I reject my sons because they are less than sterile in the face of tiny newborn fragility, will I be choosing my next born over my first two? And what kind of choice is that? If I reject these two, the others will have a better start, but won’t I undo all that I have worked so hard to achieve in the way of providing a sense of absolute security? And if I welcome them with open arms as I so long to do because I have yearned for their presence; aren’t I putting the others in jeopardy?
The boys come and go with their father in their slimy oblivion, with stories of eating in the cafeteria, Phil’s huge encrusted pink-brown eyes bobbing above the bulky blue and teal jacket, pacifier glued to his face with green snot, Henry in his blue and gray jacket and overalls, towhead, silly jabber and efforts to do bodily damage to his little brother under the guise of affection. Can’t their father see that they should not be here in this condition? What is wrong with him? He is a doctor for crying out loud!
They leave and I watch them climb over snow banks, plowing through every slushy puddle they encounter, and weep bitterly over my circumstances. Why is it that once again Daddy gets to have all the fun, bringing his sons on this adventure to the cafeteria, and oh, by the way, we should go say hello to Mama while we’re here…
Round and round and round I go, weighing all the possibilities, willing this or that to happen with all of my mind and soul, only to come to the sudden realization that all of my projections are completely pointless. I have absolutely no say in the matter and whatever happens, is going to happen regardless of bargaining and pleading and wishful thinking.
And within minutes, the contractions stop.
– RDW 1-30-07